General Meeting Tips

During a recent study on Presentation Techniques and Graphics for Speaker Support by a leading University, some interesting facts emerged that should be a FLAG to most presenters.

Some of the points that were studied and some personal observations follow:

1 - The use of many colors can decrease the retention factor. It was discovered that using a medium blue background was the least offensive, while using gold or yellow for headers and white text for the body copy was the most legible and easiest on the eyes. (Have you watched the News programs lately. They have graphics moving in 6 different directions all fighting for your attention.)

2 - The average attention span for audiences is 12-minutes. Therefore, once every twelve minutes a major shift should occur. (Play a video, change topics, use a sound effect, change a lighting cue, have the audience stand for 15 seconds, anything to get their attention back.)

3 - The room size is very important. Don't use oversized rooms for small audiences; rather match the room size to the audience size. Small audience, small room. Size does count.

4 - When using graphics, make sure that the screen(s) are visible to everyone and don't have too large of a screen in the room. Conversely, don't have too small of screens either. Again, it is that size thing.

5 - The use of video image magnification (IMAG) is very effective for large groups but a waste of money for audiences of 300 or less. I told you, size does count.

5 - When holding a meeting in a hotel ballroom, you probably need an auxiliary sound system with appropriate microphones. (Hotels were designed by architects who have never produced a large scale meeting so sound may have been a low level priority) This would be one of those "Personal Observations".

6 - Don't under produce. You only get one chance during a live presentation and not having the appropriate personnel can mean the difference between success and failure. Hire the right people for the job. (The $1,000. you might save could result in a very embarrassing moment)

7 - Don't have the ballroom too dark unless you have a very dynamic speaker or visual effect (such as a live product reveal)

8 - It is not necessarily what you say but how you say it. Know your topic and speak with conviction. An audience can sense a poorly prepared presenter quite easily. ( According to a recent survey, body language is 55% of getting your message across, tonality counts for 38% and words only 7%)

9 - Speak naturally but project. If you are a hand waving speaker, wave your hands. If you like to pace when you talk, pace but never turn your back to the audience or speak with your hands in your pocket. Be yourself, no one is more qualified.

10 - If you need to point to the screen, use a laser pointer but keep the laser steady and brief. No one likes to look at a laser on a screen with someone who has the shakes.

PowerPoint Tips

Like many people starting to produce their own PowerPoint Presentations, they tend to want to put in too much information and not depend on our verbal skills. It is called "Speaker Support" for a reason, it is not there to present your entire presentation, just highlight the important "take home" points.

Without a doubt, the most important step to take when setting up your PowerPoint Presentation is to setup the "Slide Master" template first. This step alone will save you a lot of time.

The next important factor is legibility and type size is key. Watch your presentation from the back of the room; if you can't read the fine type, neither can your audience, so don't use it or make it larger.

I like to use a sans-serif font. Like Arial, Geneva, Tahoma. If using a Windows based PC, you will want to use standard fonts available with the standard Windows platform. This way, if someone asks for a copy of your presentation, they will not have to look for missing fonts and the presentation will look exactly as it was produced.

Don't put your entire presentation on a visual (slide). Paraphrase statements highlighting only the important words. You don't need words like, an, is, of, at, the, etc...

Don't use abbreviations if you have the room to spell it out.

Stay away from acronyms. You may know what they mean but your audience might not.

If using chart and/or graphs, keep them simple for ease of reading. Use handouts with more detailed graphs and charts if necessary.

Use bullets and sub-bullets to make important points and try to keep bullets to no more than 8 to a slide.

If a slide is too busy, break it into two or three slides.

Finally, if you need assistance, call me. Thanks and have a great day. Brian J. Perks (248) 421-5930